Examination of the estrogenicity of 2,4,6,2',6'-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 104), its hydroxylated metabolite 2,4,6,2',6'-pentachloro-4-biphenylol (HO-PCB 104), and a further chlorinated derivative, 2,4,6,2',4',6'-hexachlorobiphenyl (PCB 155). Academic Article uri icon


  • Several studies have reported that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exhibit estrogenic activity; however, it is not clear if these responses are associated with the polychlorinated hydrocarbon or its hydroxylated metabolite. In order to further test this hypothesis, a battery of in vitro and in vivo assays were used to investigate the estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities of 2,4,6,2',6'-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 104), its para-hydroxylated derivative 2,4,6,2',6'-pentachloro-4-biphenylol (HO-PCB 104), and its para-chlorinated derivative 2,4,6,2',4',6'-hexachlorobiphenyl (PCB 155). PCB 104 was found to 1) compete with tritiated 17beta-estradiol (E2) for binding to the mouse uterine estrogen receptor (ER); 2) induce gene expression in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells transiently transfected with the Gal4-human ER chimeric construct (Gal4-HEGO) and the Gal4-regulated luciferase reporter gene (17m5-G-Luc); and 3) increase MCF-7 cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. HO-PCB 104 exhibited greater estrogenic activity than PCB 104 in the in vitro assays examined. However, gas chromatographic-mass spectrophotometric analysis of extracts prepared from MCF-7 cells incubated with PCB 104 failed to detect the presence of the expected major metabolite HO-PCB 104. The estrogenic activity of the para-chlorinated derivative, PCB 155, was minimal compared to PCB 104 and HO-PCB 104, but it did exhibit significant antiestrogenic activity following co-treatment with 1 nM E2. Co-treatment of PCB 104 with 1 nM E2 had no effect on reporter gene expression compared to E2 alone, while 10 microM HO-PCB 104 exhibited additivity with 1 nM E2. At a dose of 202 mg/kg,PCB 104 increased uterine wet weight in ovariectomized CD-1 mice and induced vaginal epithelial cell cornification at 202, 16, and 1.7 mg/kg in a dose-dependent manner. These studies demonstrate that in addition to the hydroxylated metabolites, selected parent PCB congeners may also exhibit estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities.

published proceedings

  • Environ Health Perspect

altmetric score

  • 9

author list (cited authors)

  • Fielden, M. R., Chen, I., Chittim, B., Safe, S. H., & Zacharewski, T. R.

citation count

  • 106

complete list of authors

  • Fielden, MR||Chen, I||Chittim, B||Safe, SH||Zacharewski, TR

publication date

  • November 1997